Thursday, February 7, 2013

Culture Shock?

The Bad...

It is Thursday, the 5th day of my Javanese media silence. It has been good. Obviously, by the time you read this, I will be reconnected. But for now, I am soaking up the backwoods (jungles?) of Java.

Hmmmm...reflecting over our time here so far. I must say that it has been a challenge.

first view of Jakarta, from the airport. Hazy from the humidity. But beautiful.
We found out about a week before our trip started that our friends would not be meeting us when we arrived. We had to spend the first night in Indonesia without them. To say I was not thrilled with this arrangement would be putting it nicely.

well traveled, well rested Hippies

But I decided to make the best of the situation. A delegate from the hotel was supposed to meet us at the airport complete with a sign with our name or the name of the hotel on it. Easy-peasy.

Not. There was no one waiting for us. Our phone didn't work, so we couldn't call the hotel. The Internet wouldn't work, so we couldn't google the hotel info. We were almost money-less because we spent our cash on visas, and we needed to connect with our friends to get the rest of our money.

The only people who were interested in us were throngs of bell boys who wanted to carry our suitcases and taxi drivers who all wanted the privilege of driving us somewhere. No one spoke English.

The Ugly...

I was rather furious. I felt abandoned. With 4 kids. In a very foreign country.

We finally came across someone who spoke English. He very graciously called his contact at our hotel, who sent someone to meet us. After a very stressful couple hours, we made it to our hotel.

It was a gorgeous hotel, with an awesome pool. We all swam a bit then headed for dinner, where we ate some really good Malaysian food-mango chicken, black pepper beef, and a few other things.

We slept good, albeit in separate rooms. Mr. Hippie got the boys, and I got the girls. I ran and swam laps the next morning and all was good.

We then had the privilege of hauling all of our luggage back to the airport to meet our friends. Their flight was coming in at the domestic terminal, and we had planned to meet them at the McDonalds there. Except there was no McDonalds there. Not in any of the terminals.

So, picture the Barefoot Hippies hauling all of our suitcases, plus our backpacks through 85 degree weather. The entire length of the outside terminal. Sweating and mopping. And praying. That we would connect somehow.

Through a series of phone calls (them) and an announcement over the p.a. system (us), our friends found Mr. Hippie, and we were all finally together.

We drove hours and hours, first to drop off our unneeded luggage, and then to find the resort. Crazy roads. Curvy, up and down. The kind of experience that people pay big bucks to enjoy at Cedar Point. And the house are right next to the road. The dividing line in the center is merely a suggestion. Nothing concrete. And certainly nothing to stay on your own side of.

Meres got pretty eaten up the first night. She has been a trooper.
It was good, until Meres puked. All over me. All over herself. All over her dad.

Ewww. Smelly and disgusting. We pulled over at one of the house/shops right next to the road, rinsed down with their water and changed out of the clothes. Then we drove and I prayed that she was done, and we would make it where we were going without further incident.

We arrived after 6:30, settled in, swam, ate a light dinner and were all sleeping by 8:30.

The Good...
Since Sunday things have been much better. This resort is rather rustic. But there is running water, western toilets, and the ocean right in the backyard. Think summer camp not resort and you will be less shocked.

I have enjoyed time reading and swimming. The kids are in the pool about 7:00, get out to eat breakfast, and then jump back in until the sun is too hot to stand, around 11. We eat lunch and have quiet time. Then we explore more in the later afternoon.

So far we have been able to see a bit of the area's attractions. One day everyone but me climbed an area behind us, in order to get a bird's eye view of the neighborhood.

We have walked down the shore as far as we could, looking at the fishing boats and climbing lava rock formations.

I guess that Java belongs to the Ring of Fire. A string of volcanoes. I'd never heard of it, but here we are. In volcano country. Woo-hoo!

surfing USA?
Yesterday we visited some hot springs in the area. I have never been to any hot springs. They smelled terrible. All that sulfur. Rotten eggs. I think I would have enjoyed them more if it had been cooler. Who wants to be in hot water when it is pushing a very humid 90? There was a water fall that the kids sat under and really enjoyed. It was like a nice massage.

We then took off for the markets to stock up on food for the remainder of our stay here. No convenient Meijer or Walmart to pick up everything you need. You go to the wet market for produce, the fish market for fish, and the corner store for everything else.

I couldn't do it. My head started pounding and I felt like I was going to fall over. Not sure if I was heat-stroking or what, but I found some shade, a breeze, water and ice cream, and recovered after a bit.
we ate fish every night. Delicious!
We finished off our day at some bat caves. This phenomenon was unbelievable. At dusk, thousands and thousands of bats start flying out of a huge cave mouth. They fly in this unbroken line for as far as the eye can see. Not a single file line, but a thick line. Of bats. For an hour or more. Just pouring out of the cave. Inconceivable! They really awesome thing is how few fly into each other. God has created these blind bats with amazing sonar, and they are able to go about their business with relatively few hiccups.

Besides being a third world country, Indonesia is also a Muslim country. Which means that periodically, prayers and "songs" are blasted over a loud speaker from your local mosque. It is a sound that you begin to get used to. I hear that they also do a 4:00 a.m. prayer time, but it has yet to wake me. Thankfully.

fishing boats. Reminded me of the pirate coalition on the 3rd Pirates movie
We have all been sleeping like rocks. Early to bed and out like a light. I can't tell if it is the ocean air, or all the swimming, or jet lag, but it has been good.

I think it has been good to connect with our friends. To see how they live. To face their daily challenges on a very small scale.
Everybody's got a water buffalo, your's is fast but mine in slow.
Where do you get them I don't know, but everybody's got a water buffalo...

Note: I am actually publishing this a week after originally writing it. I hope this doesn't sound to complaining. It truly was a bit of a shock. But I am adjusting. There are bigger adjustments and then there is the great aspects.

The Barefoot Hippies are now in Borneo, staying at our friends' house and living more their real life-as opposed to their vacation life. Travel in Indo is rough. The roads are packed, and flights aren't announced in English. We had a long travel day on Sunday, but we are now here for the duration of our trip.

We are pretty rested and sun kissed. Freckles sprouted a whole lot more freckles. LC has a glorious tan line going on. Oh, and she is also sporting the in "ombre" look-with the tips of her hair green from chlorine.

Meres is pretty well recovered from her bites. And BMV is charming the girls.

I've not used a hair dryer, curling iron or hairspray in over 2 weeks. But, I am still applying mascara. A girl can't give up everything. 

Life is good.

How are you all surviving your winter?